I lift my eyes up to the mountains
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalm 121)

As I wound my way through the Yosemite valley my heart was pounding in my ears, breath faintly visible with every exhale in the chilly January afternoon. The only audible sounds were foorsteps crunching underfoot and the hypnotic gurgling of hidden streams. I had traversed the entire trail in silence and solitude, a sublime benefit of visiting Yosemite in the off-season. The valley trail wound before me while Half Dome loomed in the distance, a towering specter of granite and ice piercing the sky. From this vantage point it seemed impossibly distant and out of reach.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains…

I had taken this spontaneous trip as a futile escape from reality, and somewhere along the path I had begun to pray. I was casting my cares on Him and perhaps taking far too much liberty in the casting. Life had thrown me for a loop and I was laden with fear and anxiety, feeling overwhelmed by circumstances beyond my control.

Having recently and unexpectedly quit my job, I was completely burnt out, confused by a panoply of external forces that were wholly unforeseen, and now wholly without a plan for the future. I was desperately seeking answers but my prayers were a jumble of plaintive pleas mixed with unanswerable questions, self-pity and self-lambasting. What a one-sided and uncensored stream of consciousness, far from refined or coherent, but perhaps we can only be fully honest with God in our rawest desperation and despair.  

Where does my help come from?

Miles later I came across an open clearing ringed by trees and I sat upon a lone stump, utterly spent, literally and figuratively in the valley. Drained, alone, and afraid, I could not see a way out. I was cast so low that my eyes were inevitably drawn upwards; so desperately did I long to be up among the clouds, above all of this mess. I was so mired in the valley that there was no other choice but to look up to the mountains, to set my eyes upon the hope that rested there – to seek His face and humbly ask for His help.

My mindless prayers were unbearably cacophonous in my stormy mind. For a moment I willed myself to surrender to silence, to feel the world still. In that stillness as vast as the valley in which I rested my weary soul, the voices that hurled fears and insecurities were finally extinguished. For the first time I listened solely for His voice. For a moment I surrendered my fragile pride and sought His peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7). And for a moment I found it.

My help comes from the Lord…

I was not alone in that valley. Not alone that day, or every day that’s passed since that trip more than a year ago. So much has changed since then and to be honest I’m still struggling with the climb. I wish I could say that I’ve left the valley for good but life doesn’t work that way. There have been plateaus and valleys too numerous to count, yet with each painstaking step I have grown stronger, fortified by the one who gives me strength in my weakness and abates my fear with His grace.

The maker of heaven and earth…

Every day I have to remind myself to direct my eyes heavenwards, up to the sky where I know my Father sees my every step. It’s a painful ascent and I still wrestle with fear, shame, and guilt, but just as He is here with me in the valley, He will be with me at the mountaintop.

One foot in front of the other, struggle, fall, get back up again – all this to finally reach the summit. The toil, the clawing, the scars – all this in order to stand victorious on the mountaintop. All this to stand beside Him, to look at the beauty below and marvel at the view.

Songs to listen to: Hills and Valleys (Tauren Wells)


Kathryn is the founder of That’s What She. After years spent roaming through the wilderness, she met Christ and hasn’t looked back. An avid lover of storytelling and prone to run-ons, she hopes to embark on this journey with all of you and learn quite a few things along the way.

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